May 30, 2004
We have sailed once previously on the (Smoke-Free) Paradise to the Western Carribean before, so we had a general idea of how Carnival caters to the guests. When we arrived at 11:30 am, we seen the ship (which is considerably larger than the Paradise) for the first time up close, it was incredible. We pre-registered at the Queen Mary and got in line for the Fun Pass customers.
At about 12:30 pm, we flew right through the check-in and boarded. Our room was 8182 (extended balcony), and had plenty of space to put away everything. My only complaint was the fact the beds were considerably harder than on the Paradise (which made it difficult to sleep for the first couple of nights). Since it was our 15th Anniversary, I had sent a dozen roses to be waiting in the room for my wife, they were beautiful.
Overall, the ship was kept very clean by the staff, and almost everytime I passed a Carnival employee, they smiled, said good morning or good afternoon... etc. In the dining areas (Mermaids Grill, Normandie, Lido deck, David's Supper Club, etc...), the staff was very quick to bus the tables and keep the area clean.
For two days at sea, we spent some time in the casino. Many table games available, and plenty of slots & video poker. Having lived in Las Vegas, I would say the slots and video poker paid out about the same as a Vegas casino. We tried our hand at trivia several times with cruise hostess, Sara. She was lots of fun, always smiling, and very helpful.
Puerta Vallarta was as expected, friendly and warm. We took a cab to downtown from the port, shopped for a couple of hours, then headed back to get ready for our booked excursion, a Sunset sail. I would definately recommend this tous as long as you dont get seasick easily, as it is on a 60 foot sailboat. We were surrounded by dolphins for a while. It was open bar, and the snacks were cheese, crackers and ham. Then they served the chips and guacamole, that was some of the best guacamole I had ever had.
Mazaltlan, we hung out at Stone Island most of the day, lots of peddlers here, some with decent deals, but most selling the same thing as everywhere else.
In Cabo San Lucas, we were tendered in from the ship. We walked around most of the marina, checking out shops along the way. A friend told us we had to check out the Giggling Marlin for pictures, so after asking around, we stepped in, it was still early (11:30am), but asked if we could take pictures. A gentleman at the door said no problem, that there is no charge. They hung my wife by her ankles and took the photos for us (the background is that of a marlin holding up his catch), but as they were taking down my wife, I offered $3 each for their help as a tip. The gentleman at the door said we agreed to $20 each!!! An outright lie!!! Disappointed, I set down the $6, took back my camera and we walked out. I would definately avoid that place again. Next we walked across the street to Cabo Wabo, that was more like it, friendly waiters and a lively atmosphere. We had a couple of drinks before we set out exploring again. After some souveneir shopping, headed back to the ship.
I must say, the two things you cant mis are the "Newlywed / Not-So Newlywed game" and the "Up Close and Personal",where several members of the staff are available on-stage for the audience to ask questions. But be sure to stay after "Up Close and Personal" for the funniest thing ever (hope you have a video camera).
Debarkation was simple and easy. Overall, I would recommend this cruise to friends and family