Review of Carnival Paradise Cruise Eastern Caribbean March 28 – April 4, 2004
Only real bummer of the trip is knowing that soon the Paradise will be a smoking ship. Hopefully the PTBs at Carnival will wake up and see that 70% of the US is non-smoking and take one of their new builds and make it non-smoking and spend a few dollars on advertising. I know I would spend a extra $100 per person to go on a smoke free ship. It was heaven to go a whole week and the only time we smelled smoke was in port.
Left Hartford on Delta Song to FLL Deltas answer to Jet Blue. You can Buy meals onboard. Used Tri-County Limousine for shuttle to Miami. ($35). Stayed at Riande Continental. Shuttle and Hotel Non-Smoking. We checked in then went across the park to Bubba Gumps for dinner. If you have not eaten there is a must see must do.
Woke up the next morning to see the ships dock. Saw the RCI Voyager Our ship the paradise and Carnival victory. The Victory came in around 5AM docked facing Miami the after the other ships had docked they did a 180 in place without tugs then moved down to dock behind the Paradise facing toward the sea.
Took a taxi to the terminal ($7) around 10:30. The line started to move at 10:50 we had our S&S by 10:50 took a seat in the terminal to wait to board. What a difference between the first time we did a Carnival criuise (1996) and now. From the time we entered the terminal and finally were on the Lido Deck having lunch we must have shown our passport and S&S card al least 10 times. The first time maybe 3 times. We finally boarded around 11:45 were told we could not go to our staterooms until 1:00. No big deal we needed some lunch and something to drink. And there we plenty of tables available on the Lido deck. The muster drill seem a bit weird. You muster in different lounges than are paraded to your lifeboats where you wait till the all clear is sounded. They have plenty of room on the lido deck and above to do this rather than do it sitting in the show lounges with your life vest on.
I went to the welcome aboard talk the “Supper Shopper” is a real waste. He basically tells you to read the shopping guide and throws a few thing to the audience if you want to catch anything be in the first three rows on the port side. They have a get to know the shops where you get a piece of paper/raffle ticket signed by the shops on board who have tables setup outside the casino. I won a very large Magnum size bottle of Heineken (we do not drink alcohol) so I traded it to another winner for a bag of goodies from the Ocean club.
We had late seating in the Destiny Dining room (very Noisy). We were supposed to be at table 286 but were seated at table 266 by mistake. No big deal. After we had met our eating companions we told the maitre d’ we would stay there. After dinner and before the welcome aboard show we went up on deck to experience one of the main reasons we cruise. Being able to go on deck and walk around smell the sea air, enjoy the peace and quiet of being at sea.
We had been to Nassau before so we walked into town for the obligatory souvenir shopping. Came back had lunch and took a nap. After the nap I went to my favorite spot on the Fantasy class ships. Lido deck through the Paris restaurant to the nice little balcony that overlooks the aft end of the ship. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sun go down and take pictures. This is the first formal night so we got dressed up. We do not get a chance very often so we take advantage of it. We had sailed on the NCL Dream and found that it took at minimum two hours for any sit down meal some times three hours. It never took more than 1.5 hours on Paradise. So that is why I do not like “free style cruising”. We went to the Production show ”Dream Sequence” it was Flat, no real plot to it. It started out nice then just fell apart. It seems as though they found a bunch of songs and dances they like and stuck them together and named the show for the first song.
Day 3 SEA DAY
This is why we cruise SEA DAYS. The ports are just a bonus and a place to spend money. Although the DW did spend a nice chunk of cash at the Spa. Anybody that has cruised before knows how wonderful sea days are. You sleep in, get a late breakfast, Find a spot on deck and just veg till you are hungry and then you find some lunch, take a nap, veg till dinner, go see the shows, take in a few nightspots, then go to bed relaxed and ready to sleep.
La Romana, Dominican Republic.
For the crew this port is a real bust. They look forward to getting off the ship and finding some food that is not shipboard food. Make a call home. And relax. This port has two phone booths and it costs a week’s tips if they want to go anyplace to eat. We did not do any shore excursions in La Romana. The were just TDE (too damn expensive). So were took a shuttle the marina and did a little shopping . We found a beautiful painting done by one of the students at Le chevron art colony.
That evening we went to the show. They had a juggler/comedian and a comedian. The juggler was very good the comedian Steve? Was avg. We had seen him before and decide not to go to his late show (R Rated).
Our wait staff was the best we have had in nine cruises. Nadia (south Africa), Cyrel (Philippines), Henry ? drink waiter. They made a point of writing down our names and they went out of their way to make sure we had a wonderful dining experience. After the first night Henry had my sprite waiting for me, and Cyrel brought our Decaf coffee at the end of the meal. If you cruise the Paradise and have Nadia and Cyrel for your wait staff you will have a wonderful time.
This is a good port to go to if you are not going to any foreign port afterward. You get through Immigrations here faster than if you did it in Miami. We took at maximum 20 minutes to go through immigrations and I did not hear the “will cabins so and so please report to the lounge for immigrations” as we always hear when we do it stateside. I believe this is because the people want to get off in St. Thomas and do not want to get off at the end of the cruise so they make it last as long as possible. But, if you go to another port afterward it is a real pain having to do immigrations twice.
We did the St Thomas Shopping tour. It was a mistake. We could have took a tram ride up to paradise point and a shuttle into St Thomas for less money and at our own pace. On the tour we were taken to paradise point where we were given 20 minutes to shop and tickets for a very small “Rum Punch” . Afterward we were dropped of downtown Charlotte Amalie to shop for two hours. The bus did not return to pick us up, so we had to pay a taxi to return us to the ship., We reported this to the Pursers and received a letter saying we were to receive a $3 credit to out S&S to cover our taxi ride and that it the tour mix up had to be handled at the corporate level. If you need to use a ATM do it ashore. It costs $2 at a bank in St Thomas and $5 onboard ship. We had lunch at Le Club on water street, wonderful but expensive meal. The local craft market is a wonderful place to do your Holiday Shopping. You can get something different than shopping at Walmart for the Holidays. It would be very interesting to find out how many shops are crammed into the four block area that is the shopping district of Charlotte Amalie.
Two Sea Days.
WONDERFUL way to finish a cruise.
The second production show (Shout), was energetic good music, but again disjointed and out of sequence.
Arrival in Miami
Because we had already gone through Immigrations we just had to wait for the luggage to be unloaded and checked by Customs. If you opted to carry your luggage off your self you could have left the ship at 7:30. We were staying over and going home on Monday so we decided to do a shore tour. We did the Everglades tour. Very cool. Your luggage goes on the bus with you, you go the everglades, where you take a airboat ride than see a crocodile show and then go to the airport. If you are not leaving on a plane it will cost you $22 plus tip to get a taxi back to Miami.
If you get a soda card the only person that gets the tip from that card is the person that sold it to you. I carry some quarters with me and give them as tips the drink waiters. This seemed to make a big difference as to the service you receive when you show your card.