Carnival Paradise cruise 2/25/08~2/29/08 Review and Pictures
Day 1, Monday February 25: After the rainy weather we had the last few days, we woke up to a beautiful and sunny Monday morning. We left home at 10am for the 40 or so mile drive to Long Beach, LA traffic being what it is, we arrived around 11:30am and parked our van at the Coast Hotel, about a 5 minute walk from the cruiseship terminal. You can take the free red Passport shuttle bus to the terminal but we opted to walk the short distance to the terminal, once we got there we entered thru the VIP line to the dedicated Concierge Club Lounge and were on the ship within 5 minutes. Ah, the Paradise, we're here again, our 3rd time on this ship. This was around 12 Noon, we headed to our cabin M259 and left our only 2 small pieces of carry-on luggage there and headed to the Paris Restaurant (Buffet) to have lunch. Carnival provides a specialty selection at the buffet on a daily basis called Taste Of The Nations, today it was Italian. The Spinach and Meat Lasagne was to die for! And that Focaccia Bread with dark olives imbedded in it and lightly sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil.....Yummie! With a full stomach, we headed to the City Sports Park for 11 laps around the mini-golf course (1 mile) followed by 2 rounds of mini-golf. After that we went to the Elation Dining Room to have our dining time changed from late to early and requested a table for 2. The Maitre d' Riccardio obliged and we were all set. Note on this dinner thing: We always choose late seating, this time around for some reason only known to her, the Mrs wanted to try early seating.........gggrrrr ..........I felt like throwing her overboard for the rest of the cruise! :evil: I find that having a late dinner makes for a longer and more enjoyable day, this way we can have our afternoon "fun" - a nap of about a couple of hours....it also helps us stay up late at night. It wasn't to be so on either count on this short cruise. But, oh well, live and and learn! 4:45pm finds us at the Muster Station, the Queen Mary Lounge on this ship, for the Lifeboat Drill. Immediately this was over, there was barely enough time to shower and head to the Destiny Dining Room for dinner.........gggggrrrr....I want my afternoon fun-nap! 'Twas not to be! So our table for 2 turns out to be a real let-down, a table tucked away in the corner next to the kitchen revolving doors and facing the wall. :evil: Hell NO! :evil: I make my way to the Maitre d' again and 2nd time around I think he got my drift and gave us a booth at a better spot. Next, our dining room staff introduce themselves, our waiter is Anoosh from India, the guy doesn't socialize much but gets his job done, (he remained like this the entire cruise, I don't know if he was homesick or something ) his assistant is Ayu, she's a very social 30-year old from Indonesia and just like the Captain she's a flirt. OK I says to myself, Bingo at last. After dinner, the Mrs was convinced she heard her calling, some one-armed bandit with her name spelled right there on the display glass panel, calling her to the Majestic Casino. How can she resist? So there we head, she leaves her obligatory contribution with no return on her investment and we are then off to watch the Family Feud Game Show followed by Game Show Mania in the Normandie Lounge. It is now 10:00pm, in 30 minutes the Welcome aborad show hosted by the Cruise Director Karl with a K is about to start. We have cruised with this pleasant young gentleman before when he was still an up-and-coming assistant cruise director, nice
to see him promoted to the top-job now. But we were both too tired to hang around, dozing off in our seats. We decided to call it a day and headed off to our cabin for a good night's sleep with me whining and complaining to the Mrs that we should not have changed our dining time to the earlier seating, "See what happened, it's still 10pm and we are headed off to bed' bla, bla bla......As things were to turn out, it was to be a long first night!
Day 2, Tuesday February 26: 3am (that's right, 3AM , we get a head start on Day 2) finds me at the Purser's desk. We had a rough night, First the Mrs started throwing up and had a slight case of the runs. To compound things, that cabin M259 exhibited all sorts of mechanical noises which were not apparent during the day plus now in the middle of the night we started hearing these weird noises, the best I can describe them is as "howling". On top of all this, the AC ain't cooling, much to the Mrs delight but I like my cabin ICE COLD, she can
always cover up if warmth is what she desires!
As I said in the live thread, we paid a real cheap price for this cruise and we got exactly what we paid for! I think I should start a "CABINS
TO AVOID" thread on CruiseMates where everyone pitches in with their worst cabin experiences. But all that was about to change as I now approached the girl on night duty at the Purser's Desk, her name is Natalya with "Why do they have a beautiful girl like you working the graveyard shift?" I asked. In a nutshell she told me she preferred working the late shift as it gives her an opportunity of spending time ashore at ports of call plus it don't get as busy at night. "But, nevertheless, what a nice way to start the day, now what can I DO FOR YOU?" she counters. Five minutes later I am on my way, new keyacrds in hand to an oceanview cabin, M47. We slept in the new cabin till around 7.30am and then I moved our stuff to the new cabin. The Mrs felt much better now, we put it down to something she must have eaten the previous night which did not go down quite well with her.
Around 9am we received a complimentary $3.00 bottle of Brut Conte Bernardi Vino Spumante on ice and 2 champagne glasses, compliments of the Purser. But it's the thought that counts plus
we had just gotten a free upgrade to an oceanview cabin so I ain't complaining.
Quite an interesting start to our cruise I thought, hopefully things will only brighten up from this point. And they sure did! More on this later.
Today was our first port-of-call to the beautiful island of Catalina, 26 miles off the coast of Long Beach. Avalon, (Catalina's only town, population: about 4000 and NO cars allowed) is such a pretty little town with a Euroepan feel/flair to it. The town just barely managed to avoid the wrath of that huge wildfire last year! We had an early lunch from the Buffet, today's specialty was Japanese, I enjoyed a bowl of Miso soup and then had Tofu with Seaweed and seasoned Teriyaki Chicken. I don't recall what the Mrs ate, we have totally different tastes when it comes to food, with the exception of Indian, which we both love, but alas, as it turned out, no Indian selection on this cruise. But that's OK, we can have Indian anytime in the Little India district of Artesia in Los Angeles. After lunch we took the tender boat ashore and spent a couple of hoursi n town, I posted some pics from Avalon on CruiseMates while we were ashore. Many passengers from the ship rented the ever-popular golf carts, it is a cool way to make your way around town and makes for a different experience. The guy in the most prominent location in town charges up to $60 an hour when cruiseships are in town, the guy about 5 short blocks away also charges up to $60 an hour but with him you always get 2 hours for the price of 1, he is our point guy when we decide to rent while in Avalon. Around 3pm we head back to the tender boats and as we made our way to the ship, a pod of playful dolphins accompanied us part of the way, one of them got real close to the tender boat, maybe not more than 3 feet and I could see this beautiful creature as it made its way down into the dark blue depths of the ocean.
Tonight is Cruise Elegant Night and sooner than you know it, it was now time for the Captain's Cocktail Party. Still no afternoon fun-nap for me.
......gggggrrrr..... Anyways, as we enter the Normandie Lounge we are greeted by Karl with a K, the cruise director, I did tell him we cruised with him before when he was still a cruise director-in-the-making, I reminded him of our participation in one of the Not-So-Newly-Wed game shows and to refresh his memory, knowing that he worked with cruise director Wee Jimmy, I reminded him of one of the all-time funny answers to one of the questions on the game show, and sure enough he now remembers us just by that answer! As we were chatting with Karl,
the Master of the Vessel, Captain Vito Garuccio walks up to us and addresses me "Mr M, we are working on having you visit the bridge on our last day at sea, someone from the Concierge Club will contact you with the details." We shook hands, I introduced the Mrs and we spent a few minutes talking about some mutual interests/connections with Carnival. I could not help notice Karl's look on his face when he blurted "Oh, so you don't need me to introduce you to the Captain then!" At the Captain's party I just had 1 non-alcoholic drink, the Mrs had nothing as it was soon time for us to had to dinner. As Captain's cocktail parties go, the cruise director introduced the Captain to the passengers present who in turn introduced his senior officers. I made an observation to my wife that Captain Garuccio has the age, the looks and an air of authority around him to respresent what a traditional Captain looks like, this was also reflected in his senior officers of the ship, all seasoned and of the right, "mature" age. What an interesting contrast with the Carnival Elation's Captain Salvatore Messina and his senior officers of just a week earlier who were all in their late 30s to mid 40s. How interesting! I commented that with the Paradise having a reputation of being a "party ship", perhaps Carnival should consider switching the senior officers of the Elation to run the Paradise while those of the Paradise get switched
to running the more traditional Elation. The younger age of the Elation's "senior" officers would certainly be a "better" fit with the Paradise's reputation. I mean no disrepect to Captain Salvatore Messina or his officers with this comment, as I said in my Elation review, I give him and his officers AND Carnival top marks for the innovative and excellent way that ship is run. Anyways, for our formal dinner I had the obligatory 2 portions of the Mini-Lobster and shrimp while the Mrs opted for the Salmon. Dessert was Chocolate Melting Cake for her and 1 scoop of Pineapple Sherbet for me. After dinner, the Mrs once again felt an urgent and pressing need to leave her contribution for the night at the Majestic Casino, we then headed to the Normandie Lounge to see the excellent show "Here's Hollywood" which is Carnival's take on music we associate with the movies thru the years. I thought this was a top-notch production complete with backgrounds/sets and costumes to go with it. After the show we headed straight to bed, we were planning to attend Stephen Thomas's R-rated Adult Comedy Special at midnight but there was no way we were gonna be up that late in light of the events of the previous night plus the fact that yours truly was being a PITA about getting no afternoon fun-nap!
I suppose things did brighten up for us on the 2nd day of the cruise.
Day 3 to follow
the town of Avalon on Catalina Island seen from the tender boat
Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island, California
Captain Vito Garuccio introduces his Senior Officers at the Captain's Party
Formal Night/Cruise Elegant Night Dinner of Lobster Tail and Shrimps
Day 3, Wednesday February 27: I was up on deck early as the ship sailed into Bahia de Todos Santos (All Saints Bay) and watched with interest as she took the pilot onboard and eventually berthed in downtown Ensenada. We were here like what? Not quite 2 weeks ago but hey amigo, as long as it's Mexico, el-Kapitan is
a muchos hombre feliz!!! (the Captain is a very happy man! ) After a light breakfast, we headed off the Paradise and walked the short distance to the Hertz office on Riveroll Avenue, it's only about a 10-15 minute walk from the cruiseship terminal. I had made an online reservation before leaving home, cars booked from the USA for rental in Mexico are much cheaper than their walk-in rate, and I do mean much cheaper. Our car was a compact Ford KA, rental, taxes and everything was $30.63 We stopped by the first Pemex gas station as the car only had an eighth of a tankful of gas when we picked it up and I put in $10 worth of gas. We headed north out of town on highway Mexico 1 destination: the town of Valle De Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) in the heart of wine country. It is located on highway Mexico 3 northeast of Ensenada, about a 45 minute drive. We stopped at the L.A. Cetto Winery and at 11.30am we took their free tour of the facility started by Angelo Cetto in 1928 followed by a complimentary wine tasting session. And boy, those samples were really BIG samples. Since I was driving quite a ways back to town, I refrained from even taking a sip, the Mrs sampled a few samples of red, white, sweet and dry wines. She settled on some dry white wine and we purchased 2 bottles to take home with us. By around 1:30pm we were back on the ship for lunch, we left again around 2.15pm and this time headed south in our rental car towards La Bufadora (the Blowhole), we were here 2 weeks ago, the only difference being that this time around the weather was just absolutely marvellous, it must have been in the high 70s and not a cloud in sight. Two weeks ago it was cold (at least according to the Mrs) and overcast and it did drizzle only just slightly for a while. After the obligatory walk/march thru the open-air market with vendors hurling good-natured abuse at all the Gringos, we arrived at the blowhole. We watched the water gush thru the opening and spraying unsuspecting onlookers for a while. We stayed there till about 4.00pm and then took the road back to town, it was now rush-hour and the traffic at this time of the day is even more chaotic with cars overtaking you from either side, amongst other things. We stopped
for about 30 minutes at Estero Beach and watched the tide come in, by 6pm we had driven past the Paradise berthed in downtown Ensenada and since we had some time to spare, we headed up the road leading to Mirador de Chapultepec Viewpoint for a real fantastic view of the Paradise, the city of Ensenada and the entire Bahia de Todos Santos. It is a very steep and narrow drive up to the viewpoint but well worth the short drive from downtown. What a glorious way to end our day in Ensenada.
Well, after we returned the car the Mrs wanted to hit some of the bars to check out the action there ...........enough said! Unbelievable but true, at Papas & Beer I went to use the Men's room, sure enough I enter to the shouts of Bxxxtch and other X-rated expletives as a couple were at it in one of the men's stalls. The only thing I could think of was to yell at the guy "You lucky son of-a-gun" He replied back that he was indeed a lucky moxxxxfoxxxx and had hit it lucky with this girl from the ship! I swear to you guys, that's the honest truth. I cannot help but laugh uncontrollably every time I think of this event. We walked back to the ship, it was now dark as we boarded and headed up to the Buffet for something light to eat as we were planning to just show up at the late dinner and see if a spot was available for us. We showered and lied down for a bit......the next thing we know it was DAY 4 and THURSDAY morning 6:30am. We slept thru the night!!! So much for our plans to see the 10.30pm show featuring the Magic of Bobby Borgia and the Hilarious Comedy of Merl Hobbs which were to be followed by a Mardi Gras Party in the same lounge.
But that was OK, we did have a great day in Ensenada afterall!
Day 4 to follow
Welcome to the Wine Route
Checking for any damage after going thru what can be best described as a crater in the road, not a pothole!
La Bufadora (The Blowhole)
The Paradise berthed in downtown Ensenada at night
Day 4, Fun Day at Sea, Thursday February 28: Being the only day at sea of this cruise, we decided to just veg-in today, although I did have an early breakfast and then headed back to bed for........ ! Around 11am we alighted from our cabin and head towards the duty-free store, we bought a litre each of Grey Goose and Stolichnaya Vodka.
Come 11:45am and it's time to meet with Captain Vito Garruccio on the bridge. We were escorted to the bridge and greeted upon our arrival by the Master of the Vessel himself. My immediate first impression of Captain Garuccio is that this a man that you would want to see in charge, he has this air around him of a "military type" and even how the officers on the bridge reacted to his very presence, I could sense that this man is all business. He introduced us to his second-in-command and told him to show us around the bridge. Captain Garuccio excused himself, thanked us for once again cruising with Carnival and informed us "I need to return to
my duties" as officer after officer came in with papers that I assumed he was just signing off on. This man strikes me as having the real stuff Masters are made of, one can very easily feel his presence. We both felt grateful that he took time obviously from his busy schedule for us. The 2nd Officer really gave us the whole enchillada, we must have been on the bridge for the better part of 45 minutes. Once the bridge tour was over, we headed to the Paris Restaurant for a lunch buffet following which was time for the Slot Tournament, the Mrs playing 2 entries but this time failing to reach the finals. We crossed paths with Karl, the cruise director who asked us if we were gonna volunteer for the Newlywed, Not So Newlywed game but decided to pass this time and give others a chance at this wildly funny game. Well what do you know, today is the first time I find myself with an hour or so where I can grab a quick afternoon nap before dinnertime. Oh Joy!!!!!!!!
The last dinner was an uneventful affair, we both had the Roses of Alaskan Salmon with Caviar and Capers as a starter, followed by Wild Mushroom Soup in turn followed by a delicious Indian dish, Madras Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice. For our final dessert the Mrs had Apple Pie while I had a single scoop of Pineapple Sherbet. The final night the waiters sang and danced to the tune of HOT, HOT, HOT and were joined by a sizeable number of passengers from the dining room. A small tip was handed to our assistant waiter Ayu, we felt she really deserved the extra tip as she seemed to be genuinely friendly and she also did most of the work. She remembered how I like my water ICE COLD, the Mrs because of a sensitive tooth takes her water room temperature plus she likes to constantly sip coffee as she eats. Ayu also kept my wine flowing when the glass emptied, Our waiter was OK, he did his job but he left no impression on me and as such, I did not feel any compelling reason to tip him above and beyond the regular gratuities. The last show of the cruise was the musical production called SHOUT, it's a nice musical
production featuring the sounds of rock 'n roll, pop, country and western, motown and gospel music. A very nice production indeed. After that, the Mrs decided it was time for just one final contribution to the one-armed bandits inside the Majestic Casino. The very last event of the cruise was an R-rated Adults Only Comedy Show by Merl Hobbs in the Queen Mary Lounge but we were fast asleep by the time that show started at 11pm.
I will conclude this review with some brief comments about debarkation
and also my observations and some constructive criticism of the Paradise.
Assistant waitress Ayu (left) and Waiter Anoosh (center)
the Slot Tournament
On the Bridge (I will post more bridge pics later on)
Friday, February 29, Debarkation Day & Some Comments: This was our 3rd time on the Carnival Paradise, sister ship to the Elation and just like her sibling, she seems to be in excellent condition in the public areas and she is aging gracefully. Our furnishings in both cabin M259 and cabin M47 were in somewhat better condition than
on the Elation. The Paradise Atrium and US Casino Bar have a nice floral accent to the decor giving the Paradise a slight edge over the Elation, in my opinion.
One big negative I noticed on the Paradise and I kept reporting it over and over again so much so that I ended up sending a handwritten note to the Hotel Director was the fact that all the restrooms seemed to be constantly in a mess, especially the ones on Promenade Deck 9. Not having paper towels in the restrooms I still find that an inconvenience especially when half of the blowers in the restrooms seem to be out-of-order! Just like on the Elation, I did notice that Carnival is indeed cutting
corners here and there but again, for what we paid, we cannot complain even if they had no 2% milk at breakfast time. This was a relatively full sailing and I also noticed way too many children/kids/teens cruising for a late February cruise. I don't think that Spring Break is anywhere THAT close yet but then again, I could stand corrected on this one.
The Paradise has a reputation for being a party boat and some of the things I saw on this cruise by some of the passengers only reinforced that perception to me. Like yelling in the theater/lounge, people wearing gang-style clothing, people walking around on the ship in what seems like white undervests, people walking into the buffet with no shirts on. If I may dare say that I think that cruises have become so affordable that certain people with no manners and an even worse sense of common decency who would otherwise not afford to cruise are now attracted to cruising as a new "lifestyle" holiday. I could go on, like people smoking at a Texas Hold 'Em table when the table clearing has small No Smoking signs in front of each player! Or the guy attempting to light a cigarette in the non-smoking Queen Mary Lounge, I had to step in and confront the fool! This morning I think that someone must have decided to get even with Carnival or something, when I went to use one of the restrooms on Deck 9, some fool had tagged the stall with his/her graffiti trademark! What fools! Also on deck 6 some jerks must have been smoking in the corridors/hallway and they put out their cigarettes by stomping them out on the carpet,I could see where the lighted butts left a burn mark. And the butts where left there for all to see. I think it is fools like the ones I have just described that give us Angelinos such a bad rap! Having sailed Carnival numerous times now I would dare say that just like I noticed a certain level of decline in the overall service so too I noticed a certain level of decline in the overall quality of some passengers' behaviour on this particular sailing. You may ask, Did you have fun? and Would you sail on her again? Absolutely a resounding YES! But based on our countless cruises with Carnival one does notice when things change for the better and one notices even more when things change in the opposite direction.
We gave our cabin attendant, Clinton, a small tip before we headed for breakast and then on to debark the vessel. Debarkation started early, real early, I heard the first annoucement for self-assist disembarkation at
6.24am! But we were not in THAT MUCH of a rush to leave the ship, yet.
Debarkation on Friday morning was a breeze, we had a full breakfast before making our way to the gangway. We only had 2 small pieces of carry-on luggage and we were pretty much off the ship in a matter of seconds. Sure enough the free red Passport buses were waiting out there by the cruiseship terminal but once again we decided to walk to the Coast Hotel from where we picked up our van and as soon as we hit the 710 freeway, we started the good old grind of fighting Los Angeles traffic. But it turned out to be a good drive, we made it home in 45 minutes.
So this concludes cruise #52 for me and #51 for the Mrs. I suppose it is time to hit the websites again in search of the next one!
An excellent review. Thanks for taking the time to write such an interesting and detailed report. Loved the pix. Got me to looking forward to our trip on the Elation in May. Good luck on finding the next cruise soon!!!!!
I enjoyed your review that was smart to rent a car in Ensenda. Being a west coaster myself I have taken this cruise a couple of times and you gave me an idea of something to do instead of just walking around town. I have done the blowhole and the country wine tour. Your experience in Papas & Beers cracked me up. Thanks for sharing.
__________________ One part age; three parts liquor!
Freedom of the Seas 2012
Carnival Splendor 2010
Carnival Freedom 2008
Carnival Elation 2007
Celebrity Infinity 2006
Carnival Ecstasy 2005
Carnival Paradise 2004
Star Princess 2002
Viking Serenade 1994
Thanks for the positive responses, much appreciated.
RD, after working for hours on this review, I now appreciate how much harder you must have worked on your recent review. I have noticed reviews do not get that many responses on CruiseMates while the controversial/silly stuff does! Go figure!
Kat, that Papas & Beer "incident" reminded me of my wilder, younger days of long ago! The shy Mrs remembers one such occurence, but that is not for the CruiseMates chat site...........