Just returned yesterday from a 4 night cruise with a port stop at Cozumel. The crew on this ship are awesome! So friendly and efficient in what they are doing and seemed to really appreciate it when we took the time to talk with them about "home". The food was very good and plenty of it! The stage shows were absolutely wonderful! The costumes were beautiful and the performers talent was top-notch! There were plenty of activities going on constantly, especially the Super Bowl party! The ship was extremely clean, crew members were constantly busy doing something to make the ship look nice. A very nice cruise, one of the best we've ever had!
My Carnival experience turned out to be the worst vacation of my life and I have had some horrible ones. I should have known when my father was going through the security check and they asked him for his card. My father has Parkinson's and it takes him while sometimes to be able to get an object in his hands. Instead of asking "Can I help you with it?" the gentleman (and I use the term most sarcastically) pushed my dad's wheelchair out of the way and said â€œJust get out of the way. - I should have taken that as a sign.
The trip only gets worse from there. The conditions of the boat were horrible and the floors were often wet or coated in spilled food in the dining rooms on the Lido deck. I complained that I have slipped several times on the floor and the staff just shrugged at me and continued their conversation. It wasn't until I fell and a bunch of cruise goers had to help me up that the staff even took notice to clean up what appears to be dressing I slippedin spilled all over the floor. My nephew suffered cuts and bruises on his knees because of the same indifference to safety.
We were part of a wedding party and supposed to be seated together in the dinning room. This trip was planned for 9 months ahead of time. Carnival inevitably screwed it up again and kept bumping people off of our wedding party in the dining room causing us to have to be split up for all but one night of the cruise.
One of the humiliating highlights of our dining experience was when one of the members of my family ordered veal for dinner. It came out so tough it was unable to be cut with a steak knife. She asked the server if he could bring her another one because it was too tough to eat. He started to make fun of her saying she needed to put some muscle into it and did she know how to use a knife? She was getting offended by his comments but the worst was yet to come. He leaned over her and began to cut her food for her and even he couldn't do it. She was about to leave the table she was so embarrassed by the way she was spoken to and treated.
Finally, the disembarkation process was the worst. A porter was supposed to arrive at our room to help us the morning of disembarkation. This was part of the wedding party package that was paid for. The night before we confirmed this with both Guest Services and a supervisor because so much about this cruise was screwed up. At 8:15, no porter. 8:30, no porter. We called and he was on his way. 8.45, no porter. 9 am we called again and they sent someone. We sat in the lobby for over an hour waiting to disembark with our party. Guest Services lied and told us our party has already left the ship and we needed to do the same when in fact we were speaking to them on the phone and they said they were still waiting to be taken to meet us. By that time, I called Carnival customer service and loudly explained my situation to the customer service manager. Amazingly, the staff (all 5 that were standing around doing nothing but chatting with each other) were able to help us. It still took another 45 minutes to get the rest of our party (that was supposedly already off the boat) off the boat to meet us.
Finally, once we were off the boat, we moved our bags and my father in his wheelchair to a designated handicap pick up area and I left to get the car. I returned to someone yelling, yes YELLING, at my father to move out of the way that he wasn't supposed to be there and he had to get all the bags and move NOW. Are you for real?
With all of this drama going on, we had to contend with surly crew members, a less than helpful Guest Services staff, rooms that were either so cold my nephew had to sleep in two pairs of sweats and a hoodie and socks or rooms so hot they were uninhabitable most of the trip. The food was mediocre to poor at best and requests for no cheese on burgers and small special requests were greeted with a very poor attitude. We found the crew to be less than helpful and acted as if it was an imposition to help or do their job. Many of the crew were happier to stand around and converse than actually do their jobs. Finally, there seemed to be a sewage issue in many of the cabins for the entire trip. The smell permeated the hallways and was very unpleasant. When I asked about this, the staff shrugged at me and walked away.
There were some amazing staff members aside from the horrible ones. The standout staff members were Ketut (our room attendant who tried to fix the temperature issue desperately), the kids club staff were excellent and always amazing to my nephew, and the dining room staff of the Elation were pretty good. They had no hand in the wedding seating disaster and made every accommodation to try and seat the party together. The rest of the staff needs to be replaced.
We've sailed with Carnival many times before and I have been a loyal Carnival fan. I've even gone so far as to tell people that Carnival is much better than other cruise lines. We've sailed on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity as well as Carnival. Carnival has always gone 'the extra mile' to make each cruise memorable.
But for the first time we were truly disappointed with our last cruise on the Paradise. I don't know if it is due to the economy or what but it seemed that everything was now being done 'on the cheap'. The buffet was smaller with fewer selections. The on board activities had been cut in half. The late night buffet was a joke. There were less bands and parties. The whole atmosphere was lacking and the crew seemed disengaged.
I always thought Carnival was on the top of the game for fun but we went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise just last fall to the same destination that beat the heck out of this one on the Paradise. It is really sad if Carnival is going this direction.
This cruise was the 2nd for my husband and me. Two years earlier we had gone on a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas on RCCL's Sovereign of the Seas and knew it wouldn't be our last. I was a little apprehensive about Carnival, but was totally impressed by the Paradise and all of the crew members.
We purchased the air package and left Iowa about 8:00 a.m. and were in Ft. Lauderdale by 1:30 p.m., arriving a little ahead of schedule. We saw other cruise representatives and asked if they knew where the Carnival representative was and they said probably downstairs. The lady was right down at the bottom of the stairs, so we gave her our names and she said we were the last people they were waiting on for the bus transfer and to hurry and get our luggage. She seemed a little snippy and was rushing us, but we don't control the baggage claim area! I'm glad the much-needed restrooms were close and luckily our luggage was some of the first to come through. We had had a long day, too, and thought the representative could havebeen a little more pleasant and welcoming. We immediately followed her to the bus and then sat on the bus for a good 10 minutes before we left. It was about a 30 min. drive to the ship. The driver reminded us of a tip, but our transfers say ‘all gratuities included', so we didn't give him anything….but we did tip the guys who took our luggage from there ($1 per bag). Since we were some of the last people to board the ship it took very little time to go through the lines, show our filled out documents and birth certificates, get our sail and sign cards, and have our picture taken. Just a reminder -you need to take your sail and sign cards everywhere you go…especially going off the ship. You cannot leave or enter the ship without it. (They even ask you to take another photo ID when you leave the ship just in case.)
It was kind of a mad house as we entered the ship's lobby…a lot of people hanging around and we had no idea which way to head. After we got through the mess of people we had no problem finding our room. We were in U194 which is an ocean view cabin at a pretty decent location. The cabins are more than adequate with plenty of closet space. It was nice to have the little safe in the closet to store our travel documents and extra cash in. There are a few amenities, like shampoo, rinse, lotion, razors, mints, but don't count on them to last the whole trip. You will need to take your own. The tux we had ordered for formal nights was already in the room. Since we had early seating dinner at 5:45 p.m. we didn't have much time to tour the ship after doing the required life-safety drill. We had all but one piece of luggage when we got back to dress for dinner and the last one was there after dinner. The room steward was very efficient, although on Tuesday I had to ask for the robes that are to be in every cabin. Just an oversight on his part. And yes, we got the cute little towel shaped animals that everyone talks about. From reading other reviews I had taken along a power strip, since there is only one plug-in in the room.. We had a small alarm clock (they have a wake-up telephone call, but there is no snooze on this feature), curling iron, blow dryer, hot curlers, and an iron and would have been grumbling if I had only one outlet. The bathrooms had plenty of room. Much bigger than some we've stayed in in New York City. We had no problems with noise from other cabins. When you walk down the hall you might get a startle by someone flushing their toilet. If you've never been on a cruise you will be intrigued by their suction.
We had most of our meals in the Destiny dining room. Our tablemates were a perfect match for us and we spent quite a bit of time with them. What a wonderful group of team waiters! Very personable, humorous, and willing to please. by the end of the trip they remembered who had ice tea with lemon and who had coffee and we didn't even have to ask anymore. The food was great!! There was plenty to choose from and the guys at our table had no problem ordering two appetizers or entrees. You eat as much as you want. Just remember that soft drinks are not included with the meals and need to be put on your sign and sail card. We did eat breakfast and lunch in the Paris Restaurant a couple of times and one day I just had to have a burger and fries at the pool snack bar. We ordered room service after our shore excursions because we just wanted something light like a sandwich and salad and we were always served within 15 minutes of calling in. The Paris Restaurant is very efficient and we could always find something that satisfied our taste buds. You had to wait in line a little, but the atmosphere is much more casual. We could put on our shore excursion clothes (usually bathing suits), go eat with a nice view of the port we were visiting, and then get right off the ship. The ice cream here is really good!! A lot of people brag about the pizza, and I love pizza, but I didn't see anything spectacular about it. There was always a midnight buffet, but gosh, we were so stuffed from grazing all day long and trying out the exotic drinks, we just didn't get excited about this meal.
The ship itself was very colorful. I was very impressed with the atrium decor and the over-all look of the ship. Very up-scale. The pictures we had seen in the brochures or on the internet just don't do it justice. There were plenty of places to go. We never had trouble finding a deck chair to lounge on to catch the sun's rays. We never went in the pools, but the slide looked like a lot of fun for the kids and the adults. We also had a good time relaxing along the window seats on Carnival Boulevard, having a drink, talking to new friends, and enjoying the ocean view…one time we even saw a dolphin.
My husband was a frequent guest of the casino. They even recognized him and spoke to him outside of the casino. A very friendly bunch! And he came out about $200 ahead, so he had a good time.
The cruise director, Trevor Block, was excellent. He had nice little humorous stories to go a long with his cruise talks. He has talks on shore excursions, shopping, facts about the ports of call, and the final debarkation talk. If you can't go to these, watch them on your cabin tv. They are very informative and you'll be glad you did. Make sure you don't miss the debarkation talk as it explains as to how and when you get off the ship. His helpers were very good with Bingo, the game shows, and other activities. The games were fun to watch and there was lots of money (and a cruise) to be won at Bingo. The dancing/singing shows were very entertaining and included a lot of variety and much talent. One night they had the comedian Jim Brick. He was hilarious! Don't miss him if you get a chance to see him. A lot of people have complained about the obstructed views in the Normandy Lounge where these shows are given and they are right! What a terrible set-up. Get there early if you want to really enjoy the show.
Cozumel had great snorkeling. It was very colorful. We did take the ships excursion for this and had a great time. We don't get into the shopping scene, but we did look around at the shops right by the pier and found all we needed. We shared a cab with our tablemates ($5 each way) and did some window-shopping at the jewelry and clothes stores. We had the most fun at Carlos and Charlies!! Go there just for the experience. This is a restaurant/bar, more of the ‘spring break' type crowd, but there were people of all ages!! We ran into a lot of people from the ship, including some of the crew.
We got off the ship at Grand Cayman and got a $30 shore excursion for a trip to Stingray City. They sell these right at the pier for less than Carnival's excursion. We made the mistake of getting off the ship as soon as we could and then waited an hour for the people selling the tours to show up. Ship time is an hour earlier than Cayman time. They put us in a big van and drove us to the yacht club where we boarded a boat for about 15-20 people and then it took about 20 mins. to get to Stingray City. We got to swim and snorkel with the stingrays and do a little snorkeling at the coral reef nearby. This wasn't as colorful as Cozumel, but it's a long reef you can swim along and one girl even saw a small octopus.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica was the BEST!!! We had arranged a tour with a local, Peat Taylor of ‘HEY MON, NO PROBLEMS'TOURS. My husband (and our travel agent) was very apprehensive about arranging on our own in Jamaica, but we were extremely pleased with this tour. We emailed Peat (firstname.lastname@example.org) ahead of time and he picked us up at the pier at 8:30. We got off the ship early and we asked a lady at the gates for Peat Taylor and he wasn't there yet, so she got her phone (or CB) and called him and he said he'd be there shortly. When we met him he had picture ID of himself and he had our email correspondence with our names so we knew we had the right guy (there have been cab drivers who said they were him and was taking away his business). Peat dropped us off at Dunns River Falls first. It costs $6 a piece to enter the park and then you can get a locker for $8 (they return $5 when you bring back the lock) to put your clothes in. We wore our bathing suits there and took clothes to change in to afterwards. Since we were there early we were the very first people to climb the falls. We had a guide to ourselves and he took over 10 pictures of us at different levels of the falls. This was the highlight of our whole trip!! I would highly recommend wearing water shoes for this climb! We still slipped in a couple of spots, but nothing major. After we changed we went back and watched other people climb up. We were glad we didn't have to climb with all those other people. It's like a maze leaving the park. They send you through a plethora of very pushy vendors. You just have to be firm and keep walking. Don't even acknowledge them!! Peat picked us up in two hours out front (along with another family that booked him) and took us downtown to do some shopping. We had fun just going into the local grocery store and getting a snack. We got most of our clothes/souvenirs in Ocho and my husband had fun finageling with the sellers in the flea market. Peat then took us for a drive out into the country side through Fern Gully. He pointed out the different trees, plants, customs, famous peoples homes, and we got to stop and get out and listen to nature. He even stopped and pulled some leaves off the spice tree for us to smell. Peat will even take you to the beach if you'd like to go there. The ride itself was an experience! The roads are narrow and have lots of curves. Peat charges $25 per person. Since it costs $6 to enter Dunns River he takes that off the $25, but we had such a great time we gave him the full $25 a piece anyway!! We highly recommend Peat!!! We knew others who took taxis to different places and had no problems. Just be careful downtown!!!
The days at sea were fun and relaxing. The formal nights were good opportunities to get dressed up and have some pictures taken. Take as many as you can - one is bound to turn out pretty good. They take your pictures for free, put them on display for you to search through and then charge you an ‘arm and a leg' for one picture. Still cheaper than going to a photographer if you want some updated pictures.
Bring your Dramamine along just in case. We had some pretty rocky nights!!! This isn't usually the norm on a big cruise ship, but there are times it gets rough and it even affects your walking. We had about 3 nights that everyone commented on how rocky it was. I unfortunately had to leave halfway through dinner one night and didn't leave the cabin till the next morning. The information desk has motion-sickness pills they will give you if you forget to bring yours.
Debarkation was extremely easy. I like the way the Paradise does this. You wait anywhere on the ship and when they call your baggage color tag you can leave. All the luggage is separated by the colored tags in a large room on the pier, so you just need to go to that section and find your luggage. We have our old 80s burgundy luggage and it was very easy to locate. If you have black I'd suggest putting a bright colored yarn on the handle so you can easily identify it. We had a bus transfer to Ft. Lauderdale and again the driver asked to be remembered with a $1 a bag! He didn't even handle the luggage! Again we did not tip the driver since our transfer says ‘all gratuities included'.
If you are traveling with family then this is the cruise for you. There were quite a few teens and LOTS of elementary age kids. by the end of the cruise the kids were getting more comfortable with the ship and the whole cruising experience and they began to get a little obnoxious!!! Where are the parents??? This is still a pretty minor complaint because we did meet a lot of nice people with families. We have no regrets about taking the Paradise. This cruise was our best vacation ever!!
This will be a very general review, listing my impressions, since I was only onboard the Paradise for four days. I normally would not sail a Carnival ship because the brand just doesn't suit my particular cruising style. I only took this cruise to attend a 30th Anniversary Battlestar Galactica Fans Convention that was being held onboard the ship on this sailing. Because I was busy with various convention activities, I did not have adequate time to thoroughly explore the ship in order to present a comprehensive review. Perhaps others will do that in their reviews.
I am a single woman, age 52, and traveled on this sailing alone.
Embarkation Embarkation was relatively easy despite the fact that this ship holds over 2000 people. I'll be honest -- I was expecting a mob scene, but the whole embarkation process was very well organized.
I got to the pier relatively late -- at around 1:00 p.m. -- so perhaps that has something to do with the lines not being too bad. A good friend from the CC message boards, Copper, picked me up at LAX and drove me to the Long Beach Cruise Terminal.He told me he would meet me right outside of the United Arrivals Terminal, and I couldn't understand how he would be able to get away with parking there. Well, that's simple. He was in his Black and White. He's a cop. Hence, his screen name Copper.
We made it to Long Beach in no time (and, no, he didn't run the lights and siren), but traffic wasn't too bad so we made good time. It didn't take very long to dump the luggage and get on the ship. So, I give Carnival an A for embarkation procedures.
As a sidenote, I wouldn't normally recommend flying cross-country on the same morning as a cruise, but in my case, I was really boxed in for vacation time since I was taking another cruise right after this one -- for 35 days. I also knew that the Paradise would be at Catalina Island the next morning and if need be, I could catch the ship there if I missed embarkation in Long Beach. Fortunately, both my flights were on time and I made it to Long Beach in plenty of time for the 5:00 p.m. sailaway, but I wouldn't have cut it so close normally.
Cabin I believe I was on the Empress Deck -- can't quite remember Carnival's deck names -- but it was on the same level as the Internet Center. But I was in an inside cabin. The cabin was adequate, though I was disappointed to find that the beds were in an "L" configuration and could not be put together. Thus I was forced to sleep in a twin bed for the four nights. I could have dealt with that if that was all that was wrong with the cabin, but there were other problems as well.
The cabin itself was cold. I didn't initially notice this because I was running around unpacking my carry ons and getting settled. When my one large piece of lugggage arrived, I used the spare bed to house that since I had no intention of unpacking everything in there since most of it was for the next cruise, the 35-day one. I set the suitcase up on the spare bed and then just removed the few things I would need for this cruise.
When I finally noticed that the cabin was awfully cold, I looked for a thermostat so that I could raise the temperature. Guess what? No thermostat. I tracked down my cabin steward and asked him how you control the temperature in these cabins. Guess what? You don't, is pretty much what he told me. He did point out a vent in the ceiling and said he could try to close it somewhat, which he did. But it really didn't help that much and I wound up sleeping with several blankets every night.
I'm used to Holland America ships where they give you some nice toiletries in your cabin -- Elmeris products. Here what I got was a small wicker basket with some "sample size" containers of various name brands of things like toothpaste and disposable razors. Why I had two disposable razors, a small tube of toothpaste and not much else, I have no idea. But that's what I got. Shampoo and body gel were dispensed from a dispenser contraption located within the shower.
I have to say that the cabin was not very clean. It was not overtly dirty, but that evening when I went to bed, I happened to brush my hand along the ledge above the bed. There was an unopened (thank God) package of condoms up there. Frankly, if that cabin had been thoroughly cleaned, I would have never found that. It had obviously been left by the previous occupants leading me to believe that this cabin steward wasn't very thorough in completing his work duties.
The bed was fairly comfortable, though the bedding, especially the bedspreads, looked old and dingy.
Except for the cold temperature in the cabin, however, I would have to say it was adequate, though far from luxurious. It was a decent size with a pretty good amount of closet and storage space, so considering I paid for an inside cabin -- I guess I got what was advertised.
Ship Here's is where this review will get very general. I only had four days on this ship and spent most of that time attending convention activities, so I really didn't make a thorough survey of the ship. However, what I will say is that this isn't a very clean ship. I don't know if the reason for this is because they are shortstaffed, or if the workers just don't care, but the whole ship seemed "dirty."
For example, I would usually sit out on the Lido in the mornings having a cigarette after breakfast. Rarely did anyone come around emptying the ashtrays or cleaning off tables where people had eaten. One morning in particular, I saw a table a couple up from the one I was sitting at that was laden with dirty dishes, its occupants long gone. I needed to head to my cabin for a moment to pick up something I had forgotten. When I returned about half an hour later, and resumed my table for a final cigarette, that table was STILL laden with dirty dishes. No one had come to clear it in all that time. There was a chair near mine where someone had left behind an orange. It was just sitting in the chair. No one had removed that either. To me, this is inexcusable. Someone should be out there constantly sprucing things up; emptying ashtrays, removing used tableware, etc. Not on this ship, however. And that's strange, too -- because there is certainly no shortage of bar waiters coming around offering drinks, even in the early morning hours!
The public restrooms were not kept very clean either. The couple of times I used one, I noticed that it could really use someone to come in and clean up. Another convention attendee told me that she was absolutely appalled by the condition of some of the women's restrooms, especially the ones on the Lido. Again, there is no excuse for this. It is basic maintenance that should be provided at any resort -- including on a cruise ship.
So I give Carnival about a C for ship cleanliness.
Food Service I certainly didn't eat in all the venues onboard this ship, but I have to say that the ones I did eat in, primarily the Lido and the main dining room, were fine. The selection was good, and the food was great. I'm not a lunch person, so it was only breakfasts and dinners that I partook of. Breakfast was always in the Lido and dinner in the dining room. Service was reasonably quick in the Lido and the food items tasty. I was traveling as part of the Battlestar Group, so we had an assigned group of tables in the dining room. The celebrities in attendance would "rotate" tables so that everyone got the chance to dine with a few of them over the course of the four day cruise. The food choices each night for dinner were plentiful. I enjoyed every meal I had there and could always find something to suit my somewhat picky tastes. Service was excellent and the waiters seemed to have no problem catering to special requests. The dining room itself was attractive and it was a pleasure to dine there.
I give Carnival an A for food service and presentation.
Public Areas I noticed that most public areas of the ship were cold. It didn't take very long for most of us convention goers to learn to bring along a sweater or wrap to many of our group's activities. But other than being cold, the meeting and conference venues were certainly adequate. It appeared that Carnival had competent personnel onboard to assist the Battlestar Conference planners with anything they needed for particular events, such as projection equipment, sound, adequate seating, etc.
As for other public areas of the ship, I can only comment on those I used. I went to one cast show and the theater was certainly nice. I also went to the piano bar one night and found it to be rather small, though adequate. Again, I noticed that rarely did waitstaff bother cleaning or replacing ashtrays, as least not while I was there, and I found this odd since it is not what I am used to when on a cruise.
Entertainment and Activities I really didn't participate in any of the Carnival shipboard activities, preferring instead to attend the ones specifically for the convention. However, I noted from the Daily Program that there were certainly plenty of them -- far more than I normally see on Holland America. There was also a wider variety of activities, for people of all ages and tastes, and I could well see that no one need get bored on this ship. There were sports-type things, as well as poolside activities, art auctions, bingo and casino-type games. In the evenings there were shows, as well as karoke and other goings on in the bars and lounges. Like I said, I'm at a disadvantage in commenting on these, because we had our own activities specific to our convention and I participated exclusively in these.
I did see one cast show and found it to actually be superior to what I am used to on Holland America. The lead female singer in particular was excellent and the show well-produced. It would seem that Carnival places a high priority on quality entertainment and it shows -- at least from what I saw.
Fellow Passengers Contrary to "popular" opinion, Carnival Cruise Lines would seem to have an undeserved reputation for running exclusively "booze cruises." This one certainly wasn't like that. Sure, there was a brisk business at the bars, but it wasn't like everyone was drinking themselves silly all cruise. Now, from what I understand, it could be that because this cruise ran from Monday until Friday, there was a different type of passenger environment than you would get on one that ran Friday to Monday. This group was primarily couples and families with kids. Most seemed to be young to middle aged with a smattering of older folks. None of the kids that I saw were unruly -- they were just kids onboard to have fun and they appeared to be well-behaved and mannerly. I give credit to Carnival in keeping things orderly at the pool area too. They have a large snaking waterslide, and a Carnival employee is stationed at the entrance to regulate how many people are at the top of the slide at a time. This cut down on the normal pushing and shoving you can get, along with the resulting risk of injury.
Carnival also ran a full children's program on this cruise, and while I know nothing about its details, I do know that it must have been good because you didn't see hoards of children running wild all over the ship. Even at night, I didn't notice any of the normal "horseplay" you would expect to see around a ship that was carrying lots of families with kids.
I talked with several other passengers out on the Lido in the mornings, many of whom were not with our conference group. Most seemed friendly and good natured, and I enjoyed their company.
Decor The only thing I can say about this is "huh? Eggs? What's the deal?"
The entire atrium area is festoned with what I can only characterize as eggs. They are on the elevators, the walls, everywhere. Maybe that was the theme of the ship when it was designed? If so, it's ugly. The eggs are also a wierd aqua greenish color that maybe was attractive when the ship was first rolled out, but appears ugly now. Several people from our convention group commented on them, trying to figure out why? I mean, I could understand seahorses or mermaids, but eggs?
Ports I really can't comment at all on the ports since I didn't leave the ship at all. I had made the decision not to venture out into any ports on this sailing specifically because I had already spent a bundle on shore excursions for my next cruise, a 35-day Hawaii/South Pacific voyage on Holland America's Statendam. I just wanted a relaxing four days on the Paradise, participating in the onboard Battlestar Galactica Fans Convention events.
This cruise, however, began in Long Beach and visited Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. It also had one "Fun Day" at sea before returning to Long Beach for disembarkation.
Internet Internet would not normally be a category included in a cruise review, but I had to include it here because of what I encountered while on the Paradise.
I was scheduled to be away from home for 40 days. This was the first cruise and another one was to follow that was 35 days in length. Therefore, I brought along my own laptop for use in blogging on that longer cruise, and did not plan on even accessing the internet while on the Carnival Paradise. However, by the last day of the Paradise cruise, I figured I'd better at least check my email to make sure nothing was amiss at home. I have a 94 year old father, and I wanted to make sure that my brother wasn't trying to contact me concerning him.
The internet center was located on the same deck as my cabin, so I headed over there to buy a small internet package for this purpose. First of all, the center was dark and dingy -- not at all what I am used to. However, as long as I can get on the internet there, I figured I could deal with dark and dingy. I wouldn't be in there that long. Wrong! I found the center to contain an adequate number of workstations, I'd guess about 20, and several of them were vacant. I pulled up a stool -- yes, the workstations are on a long countertop so you have to sit on a stool (not very comfortable). At the time I was in there, the center was staffed by a manager, who seemed to know his job. He helped me to get an account set up and then I set about getting to my email. This is where the trouble started. Can you say slow? I mean sloooooooooow? It took me over 15 minutes just to get to the first email box, and I knew all of the appropriate internet addresses. They were written on a piece of paper that I had with me. Everytime I would try to access something, I got the indication that my request was proceeding, a little circle going round and round. It should have been a snail. I had purchased a 30 minute package figuring it would be more than adequate for my needs, but I wound up using close to 45 minutes -- at pretty hefty charges too, I might add.
I think that between the 30 minute package, and the overage, as well as the additional charge to print out one email, I spent close to $30 bucks! All that to check email. I should have waited and just done it the next day when I got to my hotel in Vancouver.
I realize internet service on cruise ships is never going to be fast, but this was ridiculous. A dial up connection would have been three or four times faster. I've been on cruise ships and I am familiar with the limitations of onboard internet service, but this was way beyond any of them. When I mentioned it to the internet manager, how much time this was taking, he pretty much shrugged his shoulders as if to say "what can you do?" My response would be "plenty! Improve your service!"
So just let this be a warning to you. Unless you have no problem spending a bundle, don't plan on using the internet on this ship!
Conclusion I realize this is a far from comprehensive review of the Carnival Paradise, but I've tried to make it as balanced as I can. The bottom line is that there were some good points (the food) and some low points (the cabin and the cleanliness level of the ship), but overall I would say that I got my money's worth on this sailing. I had a great time at the Battlestar Convention, though I had a few issues with that as well. I didn't spend a whole lot of money on this sailing, in fact it was actually rather cheap, so I guess I got what I paid for.
If you were to ask me if I would ever sail the Paradise again, I would have to say probably not. Not unless the ship underwent a major overhaul and the service staff some major retraining. But I would have to say that I got my money's worth out of this sailing, so I guess it wasn't all bad.
I would have to add that in all fairness, Carnival is not my preferred cruise line and I knew that going in. So, maybe I am being a bit more critical that I should. But I just know that when I take a vacation, I like to be waited on, and I like a high level of service. When I sit down at a table on the Lido, I like it to be clean, and the tables around me clean. I like elegant public rooms with a smiling staff wanting to meet my every need. I don't think I always got that on this cruise, and for that reason unless there was really something special going on during the sailing, I doubt I'll ever set foot on the Paradise again.
Carnival Paradise March 3, 2014- March 8, 2014
Arrived at the Port of Tampa at approximately 10:30 AM. Check in was easy and efficient. I was sent to the priority boarding area to await boarding. The wait was about 20 minutes. We were taken to the boarding area and in about 10 minutes time we were aboard the ship. I found my room and began settling in by unpacking the things in my carry on. While doing that my suitcase arrived and I finished unpacking. Unpacking done I went up to deck 10 for some lunch. After lunch I wandered around getting familiar with the layout. I was surprised at the dÃ©cor of this ship. Other ships of it's era are bright and colorful. This ship is subdued but pleasant for the most part. I did find one room that was just plain ugly. That was the Rex Lounge. The whole room was covered in bands of different animal prints even the ceiling. I have not seen a room this ugly since I saw the "Jungle Room" at Graceland.
I discovered that I was assigned late fixed seating. I hadasked for "YTD". I was unable to find the Maitre' D to get that straightened out so I ate late that night. The next morning I got it straight. I went to the dining room to eat most meals. The service was not just great but fantastic! This service team was right on the ball every meal. The food was excellent and I enjoyed many of my favorites.
I did not see a lot of the entertainment but what I did see in the main show room was very good. The dance team was excellent.
I stayed aboard the ship in Grand Cayman as I have been there many times. I did go ashore to wander the shops on the pier.
The food was very good and I was more than pleased with that. Everything was fresh and delivered in a timely manner.
I have to say this has been my best cruise ever. I had lots of fun and everything about this cruise was pleasant.
Sailed with elderly parents, one of which needed extra help in the dining room. The maÃ®tre 'D and wait staff went well beyond what was requested to make everything perfect. The Captain makes himself available to the passengers, and enjoys meeting each and everyone. His attitude and friendly nature, I'm positive, makes for the happiest overall crew I've seen on over 17 different cruises.
We just completed our cruise on the Carnival Paradise. This is our eighth cruise on Carnival. Six on Inspiration, one on Spirit, one just completed on Paradise and one scheduled on Legend. Obviously we think favorably of Carnival in general. These comments are for the Paradise sailing on December 12, 2011. The Paradise is the sister ship to the Inspiration. It has just been repositioned to Tampa. My comments are comparing the reburbished Paradise to the Inspiration and the Paradise as stand-alone comments. Some are very favorable and some are very seriously negative. Let me get the negative out of the way first. The Carnival has some of the largest cabins of any fleet. The Paradise has got to be the most stupid layout that could have been thought of. First, the height of the beds. I've always been able to store my luggage under the beds, out of the way. These beds were too low to fit my luggage. The same luggage I've use on all of my cruises. I had to stow them in a closet, thus losing closet space. Second, the life preservers use to be stowed ina top shelf on a closet. Readily accessible yet out of the way. Now they've added a big square box on the floor roughly two feet by two feet. This only holds the life preservers (which used to be out of the way). This box is in the corner, under the TV, by the outer wall. The only way to get to the space between the bed and window is to crawl over the bed. You cannot get by the box by walking on the floor; only crawling over the bed!. When I wanted to get out of bed at night (I was closest to the window for the benefit of my wife) I had to slide/crawl down the bed over the footboard and avoid the box to get to the bathroom. I asked the steward if the beds could be turned. He pointed out the reading lights would not be properly placed then. Also, I measured that one bed would interfere with the desk so couldn't be turned. Plus, the televisions are not flat screened but very large bulky old sets with big boxes built around them. This layout is so anti-comfort and irritating it may discourage me from future sailings on a ship which we obviously enjoy. Third, the bathroom now has a fluorescent light which is very low illumination. OK for guys but gals strongly prefer more light in the bathroom. Let me get to more pleasurable comments. The bathroom was remodeled and shelves above the sink were replaced with a medicine cabinet with doors and shelves within. The sink surface was increased for added convenience. Service is always exemplary. Our room steward, Michael, was always present and pleasant. Ice was always replaced twice a day. Michael made new towel animals and people I haven't seen before. Our waiter, Iputu, was pleasant, prompt, and got to know our preferences right away. He always had tea for my wife as soon as we sat down. Bussing is constant on the Lido buffet deck. We greatly appreciate that they accommodate late risers with breakfast until noon. Their sandwich bar makes sandwiches to order; the Reubens are the best I've had. Embarkation is smooth considering the many hundreds being processed. Debarkation is even better. You can wait in the breakfast buffet area until you are scheduled to leave. The valet parking now delivers the car directly to the terminal. We no longer need to walk a long block with luggage to the parking garage. Greatly appreciated by those with walking difficulties. Lido to car took 10-15 minutes. Truly a great way to end your cruise. Thank you Carnival.
Food in the main dining rooms range from good to excellent. Seconds and thirds are available without question. I noticed two changes to increase Carnival's profits that were irritating. First, shrimp cocktail used to be offered everyday; not anymore. The casino's minimum bet (for blackjack) increased from $5 to $6 (20% increase). Still, the value compared to other cruise lines is quite good. Overall, if Carnival would only raise the bed height and remove that stupid life saver box I would have no hesitation to recommend the Paradise.
I went on this cruise with 2 other girl friends. It took about 30 minutes to get on the ship very organized and easy. We had an inside mid ship cabin that had 4 beds, 2 were pull down. There was plenty of room for the 3 of us and the bathroom had space for all our toiletries. The cabin steward greeted us and we asked for all the Carnival beverages to be removed so we could have more counter space. He never did that so we just put it all in our closet, getting ice in our bucket was hit or miss.
The beds were very comfortable. The food was better than I had expected this being my 1st Carnival cruise. Every day I had bagels and lox in the rear deli, there was a small salad bar next to the deli, both were very good with a good variety. We danced in The Rex until 2 am what was great is NO smoking in the lounge. We never made it to a breakfast but the early seating for dinner was always good. The food was a notchbelow Celebrity and Princess, but then our cruise was a lot less expensive too.
The food was always brought out quickly which was nice. There was a lot of wind so we had to sail around Catalina Isaland for a day which was made into our sea day. The tender was a lot of fun large swells but they did an awesome job getting us there and back. The entertainment was OK. The only big disappointment was the disembarking. We took the elevator down to the deck and it was a total mob scene, there was not one Carnival staff member there to tell passengers where to go. We walked to the end of the long line that went into a hall where there were cabins. Some people who got off the elevators did not realize that they had to go to the back of the long line and just got in the line by the elevator. They did not know they were ditching in front of those of us who were in the long line. I did inform those passengers getting off the elevator that there was a line but some hollered back at me or just ditched in line. Why in the world did Carnival not have staff directing passengers is beyond me.
Check-In at Long Beach Check-in was speedy. We got in around 1:30 and were onboard within 20 minutes. Lady at the counter was very nice and our room was ready by the time we got there.
Food Food was good to fair. I have had much better meals on Princess and Royal Carribean. It was hit or miss in the Destiny dining room where we had late 8PM seating. We requested 5:45, but somehow got changed. We tried to get it changed back, but the 5:45 sitting was already full. The Paris restaurant on the Lido was typically fair buffet. Wasn't too impressed with the buffet food served. It was just okay. Deserts were just okay too. My son loved the access to the ice cream machine at all times. And we enjoyed choices of lemonaide, juices, and fruit punch. Pizza was always fresh and good! We ordered breakfast room service on the Ensenada day and it never showed, so we ended up at the buffet. We did order the chocolate cake from room service and it was very good.
Entertainment The first "Hollywood" show was too long, but the costumeswere nice to look at and the music at the end of the show finally became upbeat and enjoyable. The beginning was slow and felt like it would last forever. The second music show was much better and of a good duration. The comedian and magician were good, but with only one showing, it got crowded early. My son sat on the floor, away from me, and other kids we met said they left since they couldn't see from their vantage point.
Ports of Call The ports of call on this sailing were Catalina Island & Ensenada. Catalina Island tendering took too long. We waited over 45 minutes to get tendered. Since they do this itinerary all the time, you would think they'd be better at it. Ensenada was fine. We did the "Taste of Mexico" excursion and enjoyed ourselves.
Staff and Crew The staff and crew were very friendly and helpful, and the overall appearance of the ship was good. The windows needed cleaning in my room and up in the public areas. The last sea day we went really slow and the boat rocked a lot. I ended up feeling queasy and was in my room for most of the morning, trying to sleep it off. Recommend you bring Dramamine for these types of days. I took one, but not until I actually felt queasy. I heard a few people complaining they didn't feel well on the 9th floor, and I heard the rocking was worse the higher up you were on the boat.
Overall we had a relaxing cruise and met some nice people at our dining table. I wish we'd had an earlier dining time, but we got through it. Other than my few complaints, I'd cruise Carnival again. Lots of families onboard since it was spring break.