There are plenty of reviews about the Carnival Paradise that can provide more "average" info that people look for on these boards. I would like instead to try and provide some more specific info for those who are looking to, or have already planned a cruise on the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa, Florida.
First - Parking:
My wife and I live in Orlando, so we are approx 2 hours for the Port of Tampa. We drove over Monday morning. The port of Tampa has the process down pat so they will get you through as quick as possible, and our wait time was minimal between arriving at the port and boarding the ship. Now here's a quick tip. You can pay $15.00 per day to park in the parking garage or you can utilize Capital Parking. I was apprehensive but several good reviews forced us to take a chance on them. 2 thumbs up. Very professional, courteous driver. Prompt drop off and pick up. You park your car in a parking lot surrounded by nice condos, roughly 1 mile from the port, security looks good, and you keep your car keys. Price $25.35 for the week.
Second - Food:
Food was OK. I've been on several cruises and had better but when you have cruise food options and such a larger variety it's really hard to complain too much.
Third - Alcohol:
Carnival charges an arm and a leg plus 18% gratuity per drink. If you do drink, well budget for the cost as it adds up quick. TIP- if you drink beer (and can drink Fosters) order Fosters. The cans are big, I'm guessing 2.5 beers per can for $6.25. Regular beer? $5.25. Fosters is the best deal for beer drinkers hands down.
Fourth - Smoking:
There are smoking areas available on the ship, BUT, they are minimal. The Paradise was Carnivals first totally non-smoking ship and while they may have given that up they still aren't as smoker friendly as other ships. You can smoke on the Lido deck in one section only, (there are 4) also the bar that serves that section is split, one half is smoking the other is not. You can also smoke in the Casino IF you're gambling. The casino bar outside the Casino is a smoking area but again the length of the bar is split smoking and non. Also you can smoke in the REX nightclub. That's it for smoking areas and you can expect to be sharing ashtrays. Note- Not necessarily a bad way to meet fellow cruisers....ie "Hi, can I share this ashtray? So where are you from? We're from etc etc"
The Paradise is a nice ship, and this is a good cruise. Remember, a vacation is what you make it. If you expect 5 star dining, service that exceeds what would be expected of a personal butler, and high dollar excursions to wondrous, exotic ports of call this may not be for you. But, if you simply want to have fun in the sun, get away for a week, and stay somewhat affordable, you can't beat this.