This was our first cruise on Carnival. We had been on RC twice and thoroughly enjoyed both! We booked this cruise because we wanted to go west of Florida and Carnival had a great deal!
Our stateroom seemed surprisingly larger than I expected. The bathroom itself was huge compared to Royal Caribbean's! I enjoyed the larger shower and all the free samples of stuff in the bathroom. The two twin beds turned into a nice king size bed, leaving ample room to toss and turn without bumping into the wife. We loved our stateroom but I don't think we'll book that low of a deck and that far aft again. Anytime we weren't just cruising long distances, such as when we were slowing down, speeding up or turning, the noises from the engine beneath us were very loud and would even wake you up from sleep. Next time I'll pay the $10 more per day to be in the front of the ship or on a higher deck. Our stateroom attendant, Raul, was very friendly and professional. He did a great job in taking care of us.
Food wasn't as good on Carnival as it was on Royal. I'm a picky eater but cruises have always offered great meals that I enjoy every day. This cruise, I found myself repeating meals off the everyday menu or at the buffet. Breakfast was the same every day and there was no variety. Lunch and Dinner at the buffet seem to be almost the same meals day after day, with little changeup. The dining room offered the most variety, but I still repeated at least one meal. The best food was, of course, formal night when we had lobster tail! Rey, our awesome waiter, was very generous with extra portions of our favorite appetizers and lobster tails! I think our table of 10 ate the entire ship empty of lobster tail! The dining room staff did a great job taking care of our needs and even entertaining us with three different nights of staff singing and dancing. On previous cruises, we were usually entertained by the dining staff once or twice, and only on 7 day cruises.
The entertainment on the ship was good. The cruise director Steve Castle was entertaining with his violin, fiddle and juggling acts. His assistant, Mindy, was friendly and informative. The Carnival Paradise dancers and singers were very talented and kept us coming back for more shows. My favorite entertainment aboard the ship was the two comedians. The adult only shows almost every night kept us laughing hard!
The ports we visited were great. Our first time to both. In Grand Cayman, we did the "Best of Grand Cayman" tour. We went to the Tortuga Rum Factory (got some great deals on Rum and Rum Cake!), "Hell," which wasn't much to write home about but an interesting little tourist trap, and the Cayman Island Turtle Farm, which was a lot cooler than I thought it'd be. As an added bonus, across the street is the Dolphin encounter, where, with your turtle farm bracelet, you could get in and watch the dolphins do tricks and swim. That was the closest I'd ever been to dolphins or sea turtles! Very worthwhile excursion!
In Cozumel, we knew we wanted to drink, being big fans of margaritas back home! We booked the "Passion Island by Power Catamaran" excursion. You take a boat (not exactly a Catamaran) for 45 minutes to the north side of the island to the private island called Passion Island. It's a 4 mile by 1/2 mile island with beautiful white beach, clear blue water, an all you can eat "Mexican" buffet (it was really just rice, fish, two kinds of pasta, chips, pico de gallo, gauc and other various toppings. I really wanted some tacos or authentic burritos but I guess they don't have that there), and the best part: OPEN BAR! We ate once and drank about 12-13 small cups of various cocktails from margaritas to rum punch to rum and cokes. On the island, workers from Passion Island Jorge and Alejandro kept us entertained with water balloon toss competitions and beach volleyball. Playing those games while heavily under the influence was quite entertaining. Three hours later, we returned to the 45 minute boat ride back to the ship and stumbled back to our cabin, drunk, sunburned and tired! But we sure did have fun!
All in all, we had a great cruise and will definitely take it again! Paradise is an older and smaller ship than some of the ships available today but we loved it and will definitely give Carnival a try again sometime soon!