February 12, 2006
by Ian MacKay
I recently sailed on the Carnival Pride with my wife and 2 children aged 9 & 11. We departed Long Beach on Sunday Feb 12.
This was our first cruise so we had no idea what to expect, and I relied on
the CruiseDiva.com site a great deal for packing lists, and tips (which were invaluable by the way).
On the negative side...
1) anyone who dreams of palatial meals and haute cuisine better try another cruise
line. I can assure you that the food "outside the dining room" is high school cafeteria buffet at
best and is usually cold as a cucumber. I speak of the meals in the Mermaid Grill. To my great disappointment, the meals at the early 5:45 sitting in the massive Normandie dining room were no
warmer--always cold, and VERY mediocre. I didn't have a decent meal on the ship. Not
2) the water slide was not working at all the entire
cruise. We were told it only operates in "the summer"... gee guys, it was in the mid 80's when we were on
board, surely that's warm enough to fire up the water slide?
3) the ship is an SOB to find your way around
in. Better signs (stern, bow, port, starboard) at all elevator levels would help a ton.
On the plus side...
The ship is squeaky clean--very well maintained. The staff (with the odd exception being the eastern block female servers) were very friendly. The cabin stewards did up the room twice a day and were very nice. The Pursers desk was very helpful and patient. The shops were well priced, and had a very good range of merchandise.
The entertainment was fun (although by the end of the cruise the "musical" aspects of the main evening show was getting a little old. The comedians were first rate. "Jerome" and Stan Altman
were very good.
I'd read reviews about constant pages and reports over the
intercom... maybe a couple a day; no big deal.
I'd read that you were constantly hounded by Cruise Vacation
salespeople. I saw them sure, but they never once asked me, nor did I see them out "selling" to anyone. If you wanted to see them, you could go to their little
Check in at the Queen Mary before 10:00. Failure to do so will cause you to stand in the VERY, VERY
long lines. Trust me on this, you do not want to start your cruise out waiting in the line. We used the Fun Pass online, then checked in
early. Sure, we still had a SHORT LINE to wait in, but they sell
beer... so the 30 minutes we waited "around 12:30-1:00PM on Sunday was no
We got early departure. Here's a
tip... don't meet IN the Taj Mahal at 7:45. Wait at the exit doors just outside the shops with your documents. When the big crowd that's in the Taj Mahal starts coming, just jump up and
you are at the head of the line. It likely saves you 45 minutes.
In summary, I think Carnival tries too
hard to do too much for too many. The ship had something like 2400 passengers and then 100's of crew on top of that. It's a massive undertaking to cook
2,400 meals 2 times a day. Why the food was always cold (even in the steam tables in the Mermaid Grill buffet is beyond
me, but the food has to be upgraded or gas the entire formal dining room, and do it all buffet. Not up to par on other cruise lines,
as I was told by many others after we returned home.
It was a fun experience, our kids enjoyed the pools etc (but found the Kids Club
"way too babyish for them") and we had great weather. Take in Lety's Restaurant on Stone Island Mazatlan--we had 10 people
eating shrimp and drinking beer all day and the bill came to $62 US.
Oh, and take the water taxi--it's $1 each round trip--about a 2 block walk left out the main gate to the street till you hit the water.
It doesn't look like much but walk up over the stony hill and the 9 mile long beach unfolds before you. Had a great time at Lety's.
Cabo was a zoo of vendors and street
hawks and hardy worth getting off the ship.
I think if we ever cruise again, we'll try another line, on a smaller ship.
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