My family and I just sailed on the Paradise (Dec 22) via the eastern route. There are quite a few things I could help you with. First off...shore excursions. We chose the Blue Lagoon trip in Nassau to enjoy some time in the sun. This was a horrible mistake. There were 600 people from the Paradise alone on this very small island. Mix in another ship and you have a crowd. The beach area where you are allowed to go is tiny. The beach itself is covered with rocks. This is NOT the place to go if you want to relax in the sun. In San Juan we chose the rainforest tour. The rainforest itself was beautiful, but the tour was lacking. Our guide was not allowed to leave our bus so we walked the trails alone. There were no explanations of the plant life or "lessons" about the rainforest. The tour was short considering how long it takes to drive there (about 45 minutes one way). In St. Thomas our teenagers did the scuba adventure and loved it. You do not have to be certified to do this. It is an introduction to scuba diving. My husband and I went shopping all day. We purchased many things at a good price, but were disappointed in the ship's "chosen" shops. The linen shop was no where near as nice as another one we found. Also, be sure to check out the prices of liquor in the gift shop on the ship. We purchased many bottles of rum at the Caribana (they deliver your bottles boxed to your cabin) and found out that the gift shop had better deals on the same exact rum.
The food was good and plentiful. The pizza has a very buttery garlic flavor to it with very little sauce. The kids loved it. I thought it was pretty good as well. We went to both gala buffets at midnight and they do have a beautiful display of ice carvings and carved foods. The other nights they have midnight buffet at the Paris which is the casual dining area. Those buffets are only fair. You do get made to order crepes every night though. Everything else is pretty standard buffet faire. We ate in the dining room for all but one evening meal and only one lunch. Check out the menu in the morning outside the dining area for lunch. We found that there was only one day that they offered something we couldn't get at the Paris - BBQ ribs. The other days it was easier to be more relaxed about the time that we ate. The dinners were good and most of the men at our table ordered two entrees to try new things. All of us ordered several appetizers each night as well. The only thing that I did not like and immediately had replaced with something else was the quail. Three of us ordered it and we all sent it back.
If you gamble...join the ocean players club. You get free perks and points for the hours that you play. We only played a few hours a day and received free t-shirts, key chains etc. and will receive points to use on future cruises. The managers learn your name immediately when you join and there is no cost to you. Craps is pretty quiet with the table rarely having more than a couple of people. The black jack tables were pretty full most nights. They also have caribbean stud, roulette and a variety of other caribbean type card games. I don't play the slots so only know that they were there and there were a variety of them.
The non-smoking environment on the ship is fantastic. There is a great work out area and a wonderful walking/running track. There is always a vegetarian dish available at night as well as information about the options on the menu that are considered the healthiest. This includes dessert.
All the negative comments that you hear about the Normandie lounge are correct. There are a huge amount of pillars that make many seats bad. Be sure to get there early if you want to have an unobstructed view of the show. The "R" rated comedians were pretty good, but the Queen Mary lounge is too small. One night we had to sit in the bar outside and listen. It was standing room only.
Let me know if you have any specific questions. We had a great time and would definitely sail again on the Paradise. FYI - Paradise is starting a new route soon to Berlize. It should be interesting.
Hi. My husband and I honeymooned on the Paradise in May of 2002. W. Caribbean. We loved everything about it. Don't hesitate to write back with any questions you may have. We had a Cat 11 Veranda Deck with a balcony and were able to utilize the Skippers Club. We loved it!
Hi, We have sailed the Paradise two times, will go again on 2-23-03. It is great. Go to carnival.com click on Shore tours, you can find the one you like. Have a great trip. If you want to see what happens onboard on days at sea click on each day.