From the moment we stepped off the shuttle we new our cruise on the Carnival Paradise was going to be just that. Thanks to our Platinum status with Carnival we sped through the VIP check-in process and were I our cabin in mere moments. Our stateroom steward was there and greeted us with a big smile as he took down our names and dinner time info. We couldn't ell but be amazed by the size of our cabin. The next time we sail on this class of ship we need to try and get one of the front two outside cabins. We had a great view out of our portholes and there was a very spacious cubby we could relax in as we enjoyed the view.
We consulted our map and we were off to the buffet. One of the things we like best about the older smaller ships is the buffet. The buffet area seems to be the same size as on the bigger ships but there are fewer passengers so shorter lines. This held true for all the meals we didn't eat in the dining room. We ate all but one evening meal in the dining room where the service was ex Solent and the food was great and plentiful. I loved how our head server sized us up and made recommendations for each of us individually instead of generalizing. I really liked the way he seemed to read my mind and always brought that extra serving before I asked for it.
We did stop in Gran Cayman and Cozumel, since we did nothing more than contribute to the local bar economy I won't expound.
The highlight of our cruise as has been the case since its inception was the "Chef's Table". To us the best part of a cruise is the time spent on the ship relaxing and the "Chef's Table". I know some will scoff at the $75 per person surcharge, I say well worth it and have yet to find a participant that disagrees. For many the Chef's Table is overwhelming, for most it is a food adventure for my wife and I it is always the highlight of our cruise. In the words of my good friend Mark who experienced his first "Chef's Table" on this cruise, "I've eaten things I never would have imagined...and liked them". The food and the treatment received when dining at the "Chef's Table" can only give one a glimpse of what it must be like to be royalty.
Carnival has changed it's passenger recognition/loyalty program and I for one love it. This was b far the best Cocktail party I have ever attended on Carnival. No longer is it a past guest party of over a thousand, we may have had 150 people at this one but there was enough food and drink for many many more. Gone were the weak drinks and tasteless horsdeovres of the past, one could choose from an assortment of stout cocktails or order your preference from the bar. The finger food was fresh, flavorful and plentiful.
As no vacation is perfect and neither are people we had some rough seas one night and several people were looking a little green for it. We had a problem with the water pressure in our cabin but once we pointed it out to our room steward it was fixed right away.
I know many enjoy the newer bigger ships with 5000 or more passengers, me I'll stick to the smaller ships with the higher crew to passenger ratios. I would recommend a vacation on the Paradise to everyone.